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Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS)
  1. O Wong, Associate Editor
  1. OEM
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr O Wong
 Applied Health Sciences, Inc., 181 Second Avenue, Suite 628, PO Box 2078, San Mateo, California 94401, USA;

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Wild game chefs and healthcare workers

Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) originated in the Guangdong province in southern China and spread by way of Hong Kong to the rest of the world in the spring of 2003. According to the most widely accepted theory at the time of this writing (July 2003), the likely culprit is a novel coronavirus that “jumped” from animals to humans. Thousands around the world have been infected and hundreds have died. Numerous papers have been published since the outbreak of the epidemic that address technical aspects of SARS. In this editorial, however, I would like to provide a chronology of the transmission by the index cases in the early stage of the epidemic in Guangdong and Hong Kong, describe briefly the two major occupations at risk of infection, and pay tribute to the courageous healthcare workers who treated SARS patients.

Guangzhou (the capital of Guangdong province) and the surrounding area (the Pearl River Delta) are densely populated. The corridor between Guangzhou and Hong Kong (some 120 km to the south) are lined with industrial and commercial developments as well as small towns and residential communities. The region is known among tourists and locals alike for the variety and number of restaurants that it has to offer, including many that serve exotic cuisine of wild game (such as rabbits, pheasants, deer, badgers, civets, snakes, turtledoves, and raccoon dogs). Researchers at the World Health Organisation (WHO) and in Hong Kong have subsequently reported the finding of a coronavirus very similar to the one believed to cause SARS in humans in saliva and faecal material from civet cats, long considered a culinary delicacy in the region. In animal farms, live animal markets, and restaurants in Guangdong, animals and humans live, work, and eat in close proximity. Animals are …

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